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Will Professional Book Editors Steal Your Work? (Part 1/2)

Professional book editor in the UK answers the main question that often stops aspiring authors from using editorial services!

Sadly, many aspiring authors reject the idea of hiring a book editor for their manuscript, and one of the main reasons is down to the fear that their work will be stolen and published beyond their control.

Although it’s highly, highly unlikely that a book editor would steal a client’s story, it’s a valid worry to have considering the amount of Wattpad and Inkitt stories that get pinched, or the number of thieves disguised as beta readers.

But this article will help you to understand why a genuine book editor would never steal your work, and part two (coming soon!) will show you what you can also do to give yourself peace of mind when hiring.

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1. Sincerity

The legitimate novel editors out there (like me!) are passionate about helping authors in the best way possible, not stealing from them.

It may be difficult for you to believe that an editor can control themselves when faced with a beautifully-written, well-structured novel, but we have more discipline than you give us credit for. 😉

Think about these examples:

  • Do you worry that your car will get stolen when it goes for an MOT?

  • Do you fear that your pet will get nicked when you go on holiday and have to put them into a holiday home?

  • Do you worry that your belongings will get pinched when the estate agent shows strangers around your home?

  • Do you fret that your kids will get taken by the teachers at their school?

  • Do you panic about your bike getting thieved when it’s locked up outside?

  • Do you get afraid that the bank will steal your money?

Some of these may not cause you much anxiety, and may seem a bit extreme, but on the other hand, you may dread the time you have to do these things.

But… you still do them.

You still take your car to the garage for an MOT; you still take your pets to a holiday home so you can travel abroad; you still let estate agents tour strangers around your house; you still leave your kids at school all day; you still lock your bike up outside, and you still deposit your money into the bank.


Because in the back of your mind, you know there’s nothing really to worry about.

You may argue that you have to do those things despite the fear, but that’s not true.

You don’t need to drive in the first place, especially with the variety of different ways to commute; you don’t need to put your pet into a holiday home, you could ask a relative or a friend to look after them while you’re away; you can be present while the estate agent brings strangers into your home, ensuring that nothing gets taken; you could consider home schooling or volunteering at the school in some way to keep a closer eye on your kids; you could lock both wheels as well as the frame of your bike to a stand, making it harder for opportunists to thieve, and in an extreme case, you can potentially live without a bank account, or at least withdraw everything so you have complete control over your funds.

Without getting into a debate about whether you can live without a bank account or not – some people do – let’s circle back to why book editors aren’t going to steal your work.

Because they’re innocently doing their job, just like the ones doing your MOT, the teachers looking after your kids, and the estate agents guiding strangers around your home.

It’s no different, you just need to trust our sincerity in the same way you trust everyone else. 😊

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2. Effort and Risk vs Reward

Although you may believe that it would be easy for a book editor to steal your work, in reality, there would be too much effort involved and the risk would be too high for such a low reward.

If you think about it, the editor would have to do the following things if they stole your work:

  • Read your manuscript multiple times to fully understand everything about it.

  • Come up with false reasons as to why they have written the book a certain way (e.g., writing style, POV, narrative tense, characters, dialogue, structure, plot & subplots), for querying or marketing purposes.

  • Edit the story in the way they want, rather than the way you want, which may lead them to needing their own editor after revising it as their own.

  • Write a query letter and synopsis if they decide to take the traditional route.

  • Take the time and effort to research which literary agents may be interested.

  • Query multiple literary agents and face many rejections.

  • If the book gets accepted, continue to keep up the pretence that the novel is their own work, which would be exhausting and extremely difficult.

  • Create a book cover or hire a book cover designer if self-publishing.

  • Format the manuscript before self-publishing or hire someone to do it for them.

  • Take the time to promote the book every day and encourage readers to leave positive reviews.

As you can see, that list includes a lot of tasks, which require a lot of time, effort, motivation and dedication.

Of course, it’s the same as what any writer needs to do for their manuscripts, but that’s just it – a writer’s passion for their own work would push them to try and get it published, but a thief wouldn’t have the same passion to do whatever it takes to see the novel in book shops.

The idea of getting rich from the story may push them, but anyone who writes or edits books knows that writing to make money isn’t the best goal to have, so all the effort just wouldn’t be worth the end result.

That’s not to say that aspiring authors are wasting their time because the end result will be feeble, it’s just that writers write for a variety of different reasons that doesn’t involve money, and those reasons can easily be fulfilled by the rightful owner of the story.

As well as the amount of effort required to publish someone else’s book, there would be serious repercussions if they were caught.

For example, if it could be proven that they had stolen your work, they may face legal punishments, and their editing career would be over, or at least – no one would hire them again if their shady act went public.

So, if the majority of genuine book editors had the choice between growing as a trustworthy editor in the industry and helping numerous aspiring authors, or stealing to only get caught, lose everything and be out of pocket, the legitimate ones are likely to choose the former option.

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3. Some Editors are Writers Themselves

As the subheading says, some book editors are writers themselves, so they’re going to be too busy working on their own manuscripts to even think about stealing yours.

Plus, other writers, whether they’re editors or not, will deeply understand how much hard work has gone into your novel, and relate to the worry of having your work pinched, so the notion of nicking their clients’ work wouldn’t even enter their head.

For example, I’m in the middle of writing a high fantasy novel and I’m super invested in the race of creatures I’ve created and the lore of the magical world, so even if a client comes to me with an amazing fantasy book that I believe would do well on the market, I’m too attached to my own story to want to steal someone else’s.

Plus, I’m not a thief. 😊

I hope this article has helped to restore your faith in book editors a little, or even helped you to trust me at least. I would hate for you to miss out on the chance to attract a literary agent or become an indie success just because of the worry that an editor would steal your work for themselves.

If you'd like to get in touch and discuss your worries further, please fill out this contact form and I'll get back to you asap!

Speak soon!

Chelsea x



Book Editors UK

Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my independent editorial business in the UK. If you would like to have your manuscript thoroughly edited by myself, please get in touch!

With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!


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